8 Regional Indian Kantola Dishes You Must Try This Rainy Season
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At first glance, it is very easy to mistake Kantola with the much-abhorred Karela. Both are gourds very popularly found across India and have a rough exterior too. But Kantola is never bitter, and that is precisely what makes this monsoon vegetable such a big hit among Indians. In case you didn’t know, Kantola, also known as spiny gourd or teasel gourd, is a small, oblong-shaped gourd with spines on its skin. As mentioned before, it looks like Karela or bitter gourd, but is rounder and devoid of bitterness. 

Like all seasonal green vegetables grown across India, Kantola is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, calcium, and potassium. These nutrients play essential roles in supporting overall health and maintaining bodily functions. Kantola is also high in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, promotes a healthy gut, and may help regulate blood sugar levels. 

But that’s not all. Some studies suggest that certain compounds found in kantola may have hypoglycemic properties and could help regulate blood sugar levels. A versatile vegetable, Kantola is used extensively in Indian, Thai and Filipino cuisines. And when it comes specifically to Indian cuisine, there is no dearth of regional recipes that celebrate the nutritional and flavourful goodness of Kantola.  

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Here are some such Kantola dishes from Indian regional cuisines that you must try this rainy season. 

Kantola Ki Sabji – Punjab 

Punjabi flavours combine with the green goodness of Kantola to result in this delicious dry curry. To prepare this traditional Punjabi recipe, sliced Kantola is sauteed with onions, tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. The sabji is cooked until the gourd becomes tender and absorbs the rich flavors. It is a perfect accompaniment to roti or rice, offering a delicious and hearty taste of Punjabi cuisine. 

Kantola Suva Masala – Maharashtra 

Kantola flavours combine with the freshness of dill leaves or suva to create this unique, green and herbacious Maharashtrian dish. In this dish, Kantola is cooked with a blend of spices including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chili powder. Occasionally, peanuts and sesame seeds are also added to give the dish more crunch. The dill leaves are added last to maintain their freshness and absorb their flavours too.  

Pagila Podi – Karnataka 

Kantola is known as Pagila or Phagil in Konkani, and Pagila Podi is a delicious monsoon-special pakoda or fritter popular in parts of Karnataka. To make this dish, a batter with semolina, rice flour, red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and water is made. Thinly sliced Kantola are then dipped in this batter and deep fried to perfection. This one is a monsoon delight with chai that you should not miss out on. 

Kakrol Bhaja – Bengal 

Bengali cuisine has no dearth of Bhaja or fries, and this Kantola fry, known as Kakrol Bhaja, is one of them. Thinly sliced Kantola are tossed in simple spices like turmeric and salt and deep-fried or shallow fried in oil. Many people also like to add some red chilli powder or black salt to the Kakrol Bhaja. The dish is savoured with dal and rice, or even monsoon-special khichudi on rainy days. 

Aakakarakaya Vepudu – Andhra 

Also known as Boda Kakarakaya Fry, this spicy and rich Kantola dish is very popular in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. To make this one, onions and tomatoes are cooked in a tempering of oil, mustard seeds and cumin seeds with spices like turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garlic. The Kantola wedges are then added and cooked until the thick stir-fry dish is ready. 

Kankoda Nu Shaak – Gujarat 

A popular dish from Gujarat, this one showcases the unique combination of Kantola with the tanginess of tamarind. In this recipe, the gourd is cooked with a combination of spices such as cumin, turmeric, and red chili powder, along with a touch of tanginess from tamarind. The result is a tangy and mildly spiced sabzi that pairs well with hot rotis or steamed rice. 

Bharela Kantola – Maharashtra 

You will forget all about Bharwa Karela and Bhindi once you have this spicy Maharashtrian Bharela Kantola. In this dish, kantola is slit and stuffed with a flavorful mixture of roasted peanut powder, spice blends like Goda masala, and fresh herbs. The stuffed gourds are then cooked to perfection in a tamarind and red chilli-packed tangy and spicy masala gravy. The result is a delicious and aromatic dish that pairs well with chapatis or steamed rice.  

Bhaat Karela Sabji – Assam 

A unique gem from Assamese cuisine, this simple and protein-packed sabji combines Kantola with sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are dry roasted and turned into a coarse powder. Then the sliced Kantola are cooked in a tempering of dry red chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves and onions. The sesame powder is added next along with mild spices and seasonings to make this simple, dry sabji that can be paired with rotis.